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Research

Joint Threat Vulnerability of Nuclear Storage Casks

In the absence of a long-term nationwide storage facility, dry cask structures are used for the purpose of intermediate storage of spent nuclear fuel. These structures are typically located at independent spent fuel storage installations of nuclear facilities with a higher concentration on the eastern coast. Given the potentially significant consequences of damage to these structures, performance assessment of dry casks under extreme events, such as earthquakes, is critical to inform risk assessment and mitigation activities. Research in Padgett's group investigates the probabilistic performance of reinforced concrete dry cask storage systems with an emphasis on the behavior under joint aging and seismic threats. Sliding and rocking responses are of particular interest given the prospect of impacting adjacent casks or tip over of the dry cask. Parameterized probabilistic models, considering variation in hazard and structural condition, can support risk assessment of a broad range of reinforced concrete dry casks storage systems located in seismic zones. Sensitivity analysis reveal the parameters which have a significant influence on the seismic response and fragility models indicate the time variation of cask conditional reliability. Furthermore, ongoing collaboration with partners at University of Houston and University of Illinois offers the opportunity for model validation with large scale test data as well as material test data. The resulting probabilistic models aid stakeholders in assessing existing risks to dry cask storage systems and understand how these risks evolve in time when managing spent nuclear fuel.

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